Segment descriptions
Countries of the World Series:
France, Part 3
          Description: France 7

  France, Part 3:    
  sampler  3’6”    (66’ lecture).

Why is trench warfare which occurred for 4 years on French soil during World War I considered a
disaster for France’s future history?.
            play sampler




20th Century—1st Half





Pre-World War I.  The growth of European imperialism as modern industrial countries compete for control of raw materials in undeveloped nations.  France and England are rivals for the past 100 years but become allies because of mutual fear of Germany which has become militarily very powerful.  Russia enters agreement with France and England against Germany. 





World War I.  Germany attacks France through Belgium in the summer of 1914.  The war, romanticized by young men, becomes a prolonged slaughter of trench warfare with the machine gun being the worst killing weapon.  The suicidal attacks ordered by the officers reflect their negative opinion of the lower class soldiers.  American soldiers enter the war in 1917 and the Germans are pushed back.  The war ends in 1918.  France will never be the same, loses its future leaders. 



Vindictive peace by France and England, supporting the later rise of Nazis. 




The Lost Generation of the 1920s.  The cultural center of France, especially Paris, with frivolous living, is an exciting place to be. 





The World Depression.  Economic instability leads to the rise of radical political parties. The Communist Revolution in Russia.  In France, the Socialist Party is headed by Leon Blum, a Jew, triggering heightened anti-Semitism.  Support for fascism in Germany. 





Prelude to war.  Germany reoccupies the Rhineland.  The Civil War in Spain is supported by the fascists, but the allies keep hands off, and the loyalists are defeated.  War clouds loom.  The Czechoslovak crisis.  Germany takes control of Sudetenland.  The 1939 non-aggression pact between Russia and Germany. 





World War II.  Germany attacks Poland September 1, 1939, and England and France declare war.  The French army is defeated.  The German war machine conquers Europe.  The 4-year occupation of France is divided between Southern France under puppet leader Pierre Laval, and North France under German occupation.  The collaboration line blurs. 





The Occupation.  Resistance leadership is often from the Communist Party which is the best organized.  The moral questions of the danger of resistance and the fear of retaliation for collaboration.  The anti-Semitic support for the Germans, and the contrast of the Huguenots.  Charles de Gaulle in exile is in conflict with the Communist resistance movement, sees himself leading France back to glory as a world power.





France liberated.  The Normandy invasion of June 6, 1944, the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944-1945, the push inland.  Paris is liberated, not destroyed.  Extensive retaliation for collaborators.  The war ends in 1945


The 20th Century—2nd Half





Politics of post-World War II.  The French Communist Party leaders look to Russia for advice.  They do not seize power but cooperate, guided by Russian's lack of aggressiveness.
De Gaulle's agenda for his power is thwarted, and he retires.  The unstable political situation is reflected in France's Empire. 





Vietnam.  In Southeast Asia, French Indo-China (Vietnam) is under French control is harshly exploited.  After Japan's defeat in World War II, Ho Chi Minh, a nationalist nominally a communist, declares Vietnam independent republic.  This is rejected by France.  U.S. Cold War interest is to restore France's old empire.  A bloody guerilla war is waged from 1946 to 1954 when the French are defeated.  As the French leave, the U.S. enters, ignoring warnings. 



Algeria.  Algeria is a French colony since the1820s.  The French Army goes there and fights from 1954 to 1962.  Evidence of torture.  Public opinion at home splits.    De Gaulle is recalled to power in 1958, is charismatic, nationalistic, creates a strong government called the 5th Republic.  In 1960 France withdraws from Algeria. 





Economic crisis of the 1960s.  In 1968 students revolt against the anti-democratic policies of De Gaulle.  The uprising is put down.  A1969 referendum defeats De Gaulle.  There is an orderly secession of presidents, usually centrist. 





Current status.  Relatively stable government.  Immigration causes some instability since needed labor brings Muslims into a Catholic and Christian country.  The European Union aims to counterbalance the U.S. as superpower.  The welfare state is seen as progressive.  France is a faded power but is still a major force in the world.